South Africa

Digital law expert has no privacy concerns about state's Covid Alert SA app

Digital law expert has no privacy concerns about state's Covid Alert SA app

Social media law expert Emma Sadleir has allayed fears over privacy concerns related to the government's Covid Alert SA app.

The app, which is part of the health department's digital Covid-19 response platform, works via Bluetooth by sending exposure notifications to users if they have been in close contact with another app user who tested positive for the coronavirus.

According to details available on the app, it is built on Apple and Google’s exposure notification framework and “has been designed to protect your identity and security”.

Sadleir said she has analysed the app and has no concerns.

“I've been asked a lot about the Covid Alert app and have been sent a ridiculous video telling people how dangerous it is. I have looked at the app and I am absolutely satisfied there are no privacy concerns and that people should download it.”

She believes fears over privacy issues are unfounded.

“It’s voluntary. It’s anonymous. No personal information is collected.”

Sadleir appealed to South Africans not to believe disinformation and fake news.

Some Facebook users who responded to Sadleir about the app were not convinced their privacy was secure. One wrote: “Definitely not going to use the app. Not for me.”

Another Facebook user said: “To be honest, my biggest concern is that people might think it funny to falsely report they have tested positive for Covid-19.”